April 22, 2019
Joel Hruska

Samsung Delays Galaxy Fold Launch to Sort Out Malfunctions

Last week, news broke that the Samsung Galaxy Fold could be in serious trouble. Multiple reviewers reported that the device was fragile and prone to breaking, even without being dropped or otherwise injured. In several cases, reviewers acknowledged removing a plastic screen protector that Samsung says is not supposed to be removed (whether the product packaging needs to be updated in some way to reflect this is one of the questions that’s been raised). But at least two devices appear to have broken without any kind of screen protector issue.

Samsung promised a thorough investigation of the devices. Now, it’s announced a delay to the April 26 launch, PCMag reports. Samsung also delayed two media events it had planned for the Fold, one in Shanghai, and one in Hong Kong.

“A limited number of early Galaxy Fold samples were provided to media for review. We have received a few reports regarding the main display on the samples provided. We will thoroughly inspect these units in person to determine the cause of the matter,” Samsung said in its earlier April 18 statement. “Separately, a few reviewers reported having removed the top layer of the display causing damage to the screen … Removing the protective layer or adding adhesives to the main display may cause damage. We will ensure this information is clearly delivered to our customers.”

Probably the Right Call

After reports broke of four devices failing right off the bat, we’ve been watching carefully to see if any new reports would surface. Four phones breaking immediately could be a sign of a huge problem — or just bad luck in an age of social media.

As the saying goes, you never get a second chance to make a first impression. Launching a Galaxy Fold that breaks too easily could anchor the idea that folding devices are too fragile for use in the minds of consumers. Samsung recovered from the Galaxy Note 7 debacle in part because it had launched six previous Notes without problems. Launching a broken first-generation part risks poisoning long-term consumer perceptions of the product family after the company has spent years and hundreds of millions of dollars attempting to bring the technology to market.

Samsung knows that the Fold is a prototype — at $1,980, it’s as much proof-of-concept for the tiny number of people likely to buy it than a mainstream product. But when you’re attempting to break into the market with a brand new part at a sky-high price, putting your best foot forward is essential. Holding the launch off to fix problems is less risky than launching and having to recall the product line to fix it.

Update: Samsung has now released a statement on the Galaxy Fold situation. It reads:

We recently unveiled a completely new mobile category: a smartphone using multiple new technologies and materials to create a display that is flexible enough to fold. We are encouraged by the excitement around the Galaxy Fold.

While many reviewers shared with us the vast potential they see, some also showed us how the device needs further improvements that could ensure the best possible user experience.

To fully evaluate this feedback and run further internal tests, we have decided to delay the release of the Galaxy Fold. We plan to announce the release date in the coming weeks.

Initial findings from the inspection of reported issues on the display showed that they could be associated with impact on the top and bottom exposed areas of the hinge. There was also an instance where substances found inside the device affected the display performance.

We will take measures to strengthen the display protection. We will also enhance the guidance on care and use of the display including the protective layer so that our customers get the most out of their Galaxy Fold.

We value the trust our customers place in us and they are always our top priority. Samsung is committed to working closely with customers and partners to move the industry forward. We want to thank them for their patience and understanding.”

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